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NITEL, M-Tel owe N300bn – BPE

By on December 24, 2014

The Bureau of Public Enterprises has put the debt liabilities of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited and its mobile subsidiary, the Nigerian Mobile Telecommunications Limited, at over N300bn.

In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday by the Head of Public Communications, BPE, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, the privatisation agency said it adopted guided liquidation for the sale of NITEL because of the huge debt.

Anichebe also said that a potential core investor, Arabian Amlak for Investment Limited, which had gone to court to challenge the recent sale of NITEL to the NATCOM Consortium, had not participated in any transaction conducted by the privatisation agency.

He said, “One corporate body by the name of Arabian Amlak for Investment Limited has commenced a legal action challenging the current sale process based on its inadequate understanding of our processes.

“Arabian Amlak for Investment Limited was among the 22 companies that submitted unsolicited Expressions of Interest to acquire NITEL in August 2011.

“We have no record of Amlak’s participation in any of our previous privatisation transactions. As such, neither the National Council on Privatisation nor the BPE entered into negotiations with Amlak on its unsolicited offer, nor was there any letter of offer given to Amlak as should have been the case if it emerged as a reserve bidder as being claimed.”

Arabian Amlak for Investment Limited, led by Gen. Abdullahi Mamman, had gone to court, challenging the BPE for selecting NATCOM Consortium as the preferred bidder for NITEL.

The company said it was preposterous for the BPE to offer NITEL and M-Tel to NATCOM Consortium for $252m when it had made an offer of $919,999,999 to the privatisation agency.

Anichebe, however, said, “Following the failure of New Generation Communications Limited and Omen International Limited to meet their payment deadlines even after reasonable extension of time was given and in the light of previous unsuccessful transactions, the NCP at its meeting of February 27, 2012 approved the privatisation of NITEL and M-Tel through guided liquidation.

“This strategy was adopted by the NCP after due consideration of other options and in the light of the previous failed attempts to privatise NITEL and M-Tel through strategic core investor sale and negotiated sale strategies, and the huge liabilities of creditors to the tune of over N300bn.

“At all stages it was openly advertised, giving all prospective bidders equal chance to compete for the acquisition of the assets of NITEL and M-Tel in a transparent manner and affording a level-playing field to everyone.”

He added, “It is, therefore, ludicrous for anyone to suddenly wake up and claim to have acquired the assets in 2012 through the willing-buyer-willing-seller strategy.”